100 Agencies: McCann RCW Healthcare

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Branaca Elsberry, Jeff Sweeney, Brian Poeschl, Laura Tannenbaum
Branaca Elsberry, Jeff Sweeney, Brian Poeschl, Laura Tannenbaum

Much of this agency's work has historically come from California biotechs, but it has been steadily expanding eastward. “In fact, 35% of our revenues come from East Coast clients,” reports Jeff Sweeney, president.

A 2012 win made his firm the global oncology AOR for Cambridge-based Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company. Sweeney's group, which serviced Amgen and Allergan from a lone outpost in San Diego, now has a Manhattan office to serve the new account.

But the left coast continues to deliver. The biggest win by far this year has been the neuroscience assignment for Allergan's Botox, specifically digital AOR for all non-cosmetic indications. And San Diego-based Prometheus Laboratories awarded the AOR brief for IBS drug Lotronex.

The agency also changed its name to McCann RCW Healthcare, moving “McCann” to the front, emphasizing the link with Interpublic Group's global McCann Health network. (Note: Branding changes took effect this month across five of the six US agencies in the McCann Health network and are more fully described in the profile for McCann Torre Lazur, p. 131.)


“Business has gone very, very well for us,” says Sweeney. “We have experienced an expansion of our existing brand, and we have expanded our presence within existing clients. We think we're doing all the right things.”

Tangible signs include the Botox, Lotronex and Millennium wins (it's currently handling the ex-US launch of Millennium's Adcetris for Hodgkin's lymphoma, plus a couple of pre-launch products, the furthest along being TAK 700 for prostate cancer).

While there will always be comparisons to better-known sibling McCann Regan Campbell Ward, Sweeney says that what differentiates McCann RCW Healthcare from its older sib is the agency's expertise in specialty brands and markets.

As professional AOR for Allergan gastric device Lap-Band, recent work has included development of an app. “We've been working very closely with the brand team to evolve their marketing campaigns,” says Sweeney, “moving more from a traditional sense over to something that's more digitally focused.”

For Amgen, the agency has AOR status on platelet drug Nplate and colon cancer drug Vectibix, and does global positioning work for investigational leukemia product AMG103. For Prometheus, the agency handles all promotion for Proleukin for metastatic melanoma and metastatic renal cell carcinoma.

As the Botox win shows, some clients still want separate agencies for digital and traditional work, but Sweeney says he wants to offer a multi-faceted communications offering with a higher percentage of digital. “It is our belief that clients will be looking for that agency that can provide top-notch, best-in-class resources that span media channels,”

Even with the new office just steps from Madison Ave., Sweeney says finding talent is his biggest challenge. “They need to understand print. They need to understand digital. I mean, it's a tall order.” Headcount bulked up from 53 to 70 over the last 12 months, but that doesn't mean he's winning the talent war. “Now, with moving to provide solutions that span across some of these newer channels, you're finding the talent even thinner.”
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